(Photo: George De Mohrenschildt, ca. 1975)
Within the Warren Commission (hereafter WC) testimony, witnesses George De Mohrenschildt (hereafter DM) and Marina Oswald were called back to explain contradictions in their testimony about “George’s big joke.” The alleged “joke” was spoken late at night on April 13, 1963, when George asked Lee Harvey Oswald (hereafter LHO) if he was the one who had shot at the resigned General Walker in Dallas three days prior.
GEORGE DM CONTRADICTS JEANNE DM:
Jeanne DM, for example, claimed that she had found a rifle with a scope at the Oswald home, during their (allegedly) friendly late-night pre-Easter visit. George made a joke about the Walker shooting, and everybody “laughed their heads off.” Here’s what she told the WC in 1964:
Mr. JENNER. All right. Now, then, what did you do? Go into some other part of the house?
Mrs. De MOHRENSCHILDT. It wasn't very much. I believe it was only two rooms. And then…I came back to the room where George and Lee were sitting and talking. I said, do you know what they have in the closet? A rifle; and started to laugh about it. And George, of course, with his sense of humor – Walker was shot at a few days ago, within that time – he said, “Did you take a pot shot at Walker by any chance?” And we started laughing our heads off, big joke, big George's joke...
It was a big joke – very funny – and everybody laughed, and then after a few goodbyes, George and Jeanne left – so she testified. George DM gave us a different account of the incident in his 1976 manuscript. Let’s briefly review this:
“Marina was definitely shocked. Neither Jeanne nor I laughed much at my Walker joke. And certainly not Marina nor Lee. Only later we realized how stunning and unexpected this joke was to them. It hit the nail on the head.”
It doesn’t match. Jeanne DM uses the phrase, “laughing our heads off,” while George DM portrayed the Oswalds as stunned – they saw nothing funny about it. George and Jeanne didn’t laugh much at his “Walker joke,” he said. So, why would Jeanne testify so differently? We’ll come back to that. For now, let’s briefly turn to Marina’s testimony to the WC on this topic. She testified:
Mr. RANKIN. Did [Lee Oswald] give any further explanation of what had happened that evening?
Mrs. OSWALD. When he fired, he did not know whether he had hit Walker or not…And he turned on the radio and listened, but there were no reports. The next day he bought a paper and there he read [that] it was only chance that saved Walker’s life. If he had not moved, he might have been killed.
Mr. RANKIN. Did he comment on that at all?
Mrs. OSWALD. He said…that he had taken very good aim; that it was just chance that caused him to miss. He was very sorry that he had not hit [Walker]. I asked him to give me his word that he would not repeat anything like that. By the way, several days after that, the De Mohrenschildts came to us, and as
soon as [George] opened the door he said, “Lee, how is it possible that you missed?” I looked at Lee. I thought that *he* had told De Mohrenschildt about it. And Lee looked at me, and he apparently thought that *I* had told De Mohrenschildt about it... I noticed that his face changed, that he almost became speechless…
Mr. RANKIN. Was De Mohrenschildt a friend that he – your husband – told him personal things that you knew of?
Mrs. OSWALD. He asked Lee [this question about the Walker shooting] not because Lee had told him about it, but I think because he is a smart enough man to have been able to guess it…
Our point here is that when Marina spoke about George and Jeanne DM visiting around 10 PM on April 13, 1963, she agreed with George’s account – LHO and Marina were stunned, and weren’t “laughing their heads off” as Jeanne testified.
So why would Jeanne give a different account? Did she wish to stop that line of questioning? Is it possible that she was holding back something that she knew about the Walker shooting? It’s worth reading George’s 1976 manuscript a little further here. George added an explanation that will become useful for analyzing his statements. George wrote:
“It was naturally a very foolish joke because there was an attempt a few days before at General Edwin Walker, a rather notorious character who was asked to resign his post in Germany by General Eisenhower if I remember correctly. Anyway, he was an ultra-rightist who had tried to run for governor of Texas. And he got a surprising number of votes, some 200,000 on a political platform somewhat to the right of Hitler’s.” (George De Mohrenschildt, I’m a Patsy! 1976)
Notice George’s clear political opinion about the resigned General Walker: (1) “he was an ultra-rightist;” and (2) he had “a political platform somewhat to the right of Hitler’s.” This political opinion might have a direct relevance to LHO’s attempted assassination of General Walker in April 1963, since it is most likely George shared this opinion with LHO.
GEORGE CONTRADICTS JEANNE FURTHER:
Now let’s dig deeper into George’s account about Jeanne finding LHO’s rifle at the Oswald apartment on April 13, 1963. As Marina showed Jeanne around their apartment, she opened a large closet next to the balcony and she began to show Jeanne her wardrobe. But on the floor of the closet Jeanne saw a rifle standing straight up. Notice how George recalled the conversation in 1976:
“Look! Look!” called Jeanne excitedly. “There is a rifle there!”
We came in and I looked curiously. Indeed, there was a military rifle there of a type unknown to me, something dangling in front.
“What is that thing dangling?” asked Jeanne.
“A telescopic sight,” I answered.
Jeanne never saw a telescopic sight before and probably did not understand what it was. But I did – I had graduated from a military school.
“Why do you have this rifle here?” Jeanne asked Lee.
“Lee bought it,” answered Marina instead, “devil knows why. We need all the money we have for food and lodging, and he buys this damned rifle.”
“But what does he do with a military rifle?” asked Jeanne again.
“He likes shooting at the leaves.”
“But when does he have time to shoot at leaves?” asked Jeanne curiously.
“He shoots at the leaves in the park, whenever we go there.”
This did not make much sense to us, but liking target shooting ourselves we did not consider this a crazy occupation.
All this time Lee stood next to me curiously silent.
“Did you take a pot shot at General Walker, Lee?’ I popped a question spontaneously. And then I guffawed. “Ha! Ha!” Think this is a pretty good joke.
Lee’s reaction was strange. I often tried to reconstruct it. He did not say anything. He just stood there motionless. (George DM, I’m a Patsy! I’m a Patsy! 1976)
Here George says that after Jeanne found the rifle, he himself went over to go look at the rifle. Jeanne asked, “What is this thing dangling?” George explained to her, “it’s a telescopic sight.” Jeanne asked the Oswalds why they had a rifle. Marina explained that LHO used it to “shoot at leaves in the part.”
That’s obviously a ridiculous answer. LHO said nothing while all this was going on. Then, George popped his joke: “Lee, did you take a potshot at General Walker?” Then George said that he was the first to laugh, not Jeanne. I find that to be a significant contradiction of Jeanne’s account.
YET ANOTHER CONTRADICTION:
George added that his joke occurred to him only “because General Walker had lived fairly close to us, on Turtle Creek.” Really? Let’s recall that the Walker shooting in Dallas had occurred only three days before this Oswald visit. Let’s recall that Dallas newspaper, radio and TV news for the past three days had incessantly broadcasted every rumor about the Walker shooting.
How could this joke about Walker occur to George only because Walker lived close to him? If Walker’s proximity was really what prompted George’s joke, then why all this rant comparing Walker to Hitler?
It makes more sense that the “Walker joke” occurred to George DM because it was on the forefront of his mind from the minute that he walked into the Oswald home that night. Not that George knew about the Walker shooting plans or execution – but most likely George and Jeanne both strongly suspected LHO of the shooting for other reasons. Let’s review one bit of George DM’s WC testimony here:
Mr. De MOHRENSCHILDT. I didn’t want him to shoot Walker! ...I didn’t want him to shoot anybody! But…knowing that he hates the man, it is a logical assumption you see…I definitely knew that, either from some conversations we had on General Walker, you know – this was the period of General Walker’s, you know, big showoff, you know.
Let us stipulate that George and Jeanne didn’t know that LHO had a rifle – nevertheless, George openly admitted that he knew that LHO “hates the man,” and that he “definitely knew that.” This was “from some conversations they had on General Walker.”
So – George and Jeanne didn’t know that LHO had a rifle – but they definitely did know that LHO hated General Walker. This was a political opinion that George clearly shared with LHO. George approved of such hatred, as we will demonstrate in coming posts. Based on this position, we find it likely that George and Jeanne decided to spy on LHO that night to learn whether LHO might have been Walker’s shooter. If so, then George and Jeanne merely pretended to celebrate Easter at the Oswald home at 10 PM on Saturday. Their main goal was to search for clues.
George added that Marina must have been terrified that George could go to the police or to the FBI, with his suspicions. Still, George didn’t tell the police or the FBI – until he received a WC subpoena in 1964.
Also, in her WC testimony Jeanne portrayed herself as cool and calm. She simply “came back to the room where George and Lee were sitting.” Then, she calmly said, “‘Do you know what they have in the closet? A rifle...’” and then Jeanne added that she “started to laugh about it.” She was the first to laugh, she claimed, so cool and calm. George’s 1976 manuscript, however, portrayed Jeanne as almost in a panic, as he wrote:
“Look! Look!” called Jeanne excitedly. “There is a rifle there!” (George DM, 1976)
She exclaimed this “excitedly,” he wrote. Let’s briefly return to George’s WC testimony to compare something that George told the WC in 1964 that he contradicted in 1976.
Mr. De MOHRENSCHILDT. And I think Oswald and I were standing near the window looking outside and I was asking him “How is your job” or…some question of that type. All of a sudden Jeanne who was with Marina in the other room told me “Look, George, they have a gun here.” And Marina opened the closet and showed it to Jeanne, a gun that belonged obviously to Oswald.
Mr. JENNER. This was a weapon? Did you go in and look? Mr. De MOHRENSCHILDT. No; I didn't look at the gun. I was still standing. The closet was open. Jeanne was looking at it, at the gun, and I think she asked Marina “what is that” you see. That was the sight on the gun… “What is that? That looks like a telescopic sight.” And Marina said, “That crazy idiot is target shooting all the time.” … (George DM, 1964)
Two problems here.
(1) George told the WC that he didn’t go to look at the rifle; and that Jeanne stayed by the closet door and spoke to George from another room in the house. Yet in his 1976 manuscript, George admitted that he actually did go to the look at the rifle – and he answered questions about it.
“We came in and I looked curiously. Indeed, there was a military rifle there of a type unknown to me, something dangling in front.”
(2) Gorge told the WC that Jeanne had asked Marina, “What is that?” And then Jeanne herself answered, “That looks like a telescopic sight.” Yet in his 1976 manuscript, he says that he, George, was the one to identify the telescopic sight. He was explicit about this, as he reconstructed the conversation between himself and Jeanne there at the closet.
“What is that thing dangling?” asked Jeanne.
“A telescopic sight,” I answered.
Jeanne never saw a telescopic sight before and probably did not understand what it was. But I did – I had graduated from a military school. (George DM, 1976)
To draw a conclusion – if George told the truth in 1976, then his 1964 WC testimony collapses. Either he walked over to the rifle or he didn’t. If he did walk over to it – why did he say he didn’t? And after he said he didn’t, then he had to say that Jeanne herself identified it as a telescopic sight. Who really identified the telescope sight – George or Jeanne?
George not only contradicted Jeanne’s WC testimony George also contradicted his own WC testimony! Why? Evidently George had become accustomed to lying about all topics related to the shooting at the resigned General Walker. There was something he didn’t want people to notice – probably that he felt far more responsible for that shooting than he wanted people to know.
THE SO-CALLED JEWISH MAN
There is more. In Marina’s WC testimony, LHO confessed to her that he shot at Walker because Walker was a fascist. George echoed this theme of Walker as a fascist in his 1976 manuscript, as follows:
There is another thing which makes me believe that Lee possibly tried to shoot General Walker. A man, whose name I do not recall, a Jewish man, whom Lee met at the Ford’s Christmas party, described General Walker as the most dangerous man in the United States, a potential neo-fascist leader. I noticed that Lee kept on asking why. And the other fellow clearly explained his reasons. Lee might have been influenced by this statement.
WC records show that the Christmas party of Duncan and Katherine Ford occurred on December 28, 1962, and that George and Jeanne took LHO and Marina. George claims that a “Jewish man” was at this party – which is unusual because the party was exclusive to the Russian colony in Dallas. George claimed that he couldn’t recall the name of the alleged Jewish man. That is also unusual, because actually this man was one of George’s best friends in Dallas.
Actually this man wasn’t Jewish at all – he was openly a German Lutheran. Nobody confuses their German Lutheran close friend for “a Jewish man.” More likely, George wanted to keep his friend’s name out of the spotlight for accusing General Walker of being a fascist. But his fears were futile because that same German citizen, Volkmar Schmidt, came out publicly anyway. In video as well as in print Schmidt admitted that he was the man in George’s story. Here’s a URL for one clear statement:
For another clear statement, there’s an excerpt from the old PBS video, “Who Was Lee Harvey Oswald?” available on YouTube, which shows Volkmar Schmidt for about one minute, repeating this account. Here’s the URL:
Furthermore, Everett Glover told the WC that the party in question was not a 1962 Christmas party at the Ford’s home – but was a Dallas engineer’s party in February 1963 at his apartment, which he shared at the time with Volkmar Schmidt.
To review – George DM said that the party where “a Jewish man” persuaded LHO that General Walker was “as bad as Hitler” was the Ford’s Christmas 1962 party. Yet Volkmar Schmidt admitted that he himself was the one who persuaded LHO of that, and Everett Glover admitted that all this occurred at his apartment in February 1963.
So, we are justified in asking – why would George try so hard to obscure the date, location and the guests of this party? Well – look at the content; the topic was the attempted assassination of the resigned General Walker. The personnel were LHO, George himself and his good friend Volkmar Schmidt. Let’s dig deeper by reviewing the words that this alleged Jewish man allegedly said:
“General Walker was the most dangerous man in the United States, a potential neo-fascist leader.”
Notice how this matches George’s own statements about the resigned General Walker, namely: (1) that “he was an ultra-rightist;” and (2) that he had “a political platform somewhat to the right of Hitler’s.” In other words – this accusation was not solely the opinion of this “Jewish man,” it was really George’s own opinion! Furthermore, as his friend Volkmar Schmidt admitted, it was also his own opinion, and he shared this opinion freely with George and with LHO.
We are now closer to identifying what George was trying to hide. There’s another snippet we should notice from George’s WC testimony of 1964 – the only place where he directly speaks of Volkmar Schmidt. George says:
Mr. De MOHRENSCHILDT. At this party were a lot of friends of Everett Glover's whose names I do not recall. Mr. JENNER. Volkmar Schmidt? Mr. De MOHRENSCHILDT. Yes, yes; definitely. We called him Messer Schmidt. He is a German, very intelligent, young Ph.D. in sociology who also works at the same laboratory as Everett Glover.